Safe Kids Program Hits Major Milestone--One Million Seats Checked for Proper Installation
Government safety agencies say program has helped change child safety “culture” and saved “hundreds of lives”
Safe Kids Buckle Up, the child passenger safety program of Safe Kids USA sponsored by General Motors and Chevrolet, has reached a milestone no other program can claim: one million child safety seats checked for proper installation.
“A Safe Kids child seat inspection provides hands-on training for parents and caregivers,“ said Mitch Stoller, president and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide.” At about 30 minutes per inspection, the milestone we are celebrating today represents more than 500,000 volunteer hours -- or 57 years of one person working around the clock. Our thousands of volunteers are the backbone of Safe Kids Buckle Up and they work tirelessly to help make sure the children who come to a checkup event are safer when they leave than when they arrived.”
The one millionth seat will be checked today at an event at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. The event is open to the public and 150 children from the Los Angeles Urban League Head Start and State Preschool are scheduled to have their seats inspected. Nearly 200 more car seat checkup events are being held through the weekend at Chevrolet and other GM dealerships, and at community locations around the country in celebration of the millionth seat milestone.
“Keeping all children safer in vehicles is one of our top priorities,” said Nicole R. Nason, administrator for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “Programs like Safe Kids Buckle Up have helped to change the culture of car seat safety in the United States and have been essential in protecting our most precious passengers.”
Significant progress has been made since 1997 when the program checked its first car seat. Statistics from NHTSA show a 25 percent drop in vehicle crash fatalities for children under the age of 5 from 1997 to 2006 (the latest year with available data).
More good news has been seen in restraint use. Car seats have saved the lives of an estimated 3,800 children ages 0 to 4 from 1997 to 2006. Of the children in fatal crashes where restraint use was known, 46 percent were unrestrained in 1997. This number decreased to 25 percent in 2006.
“Safe Kids USA and General Motors have been leaders in child occupant protection,” said Mark V. Rosenker, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board. “As we have said before, the Safe Kids Buckle Up program has given families across the country the peace of mind that comes with knowing how to properly secure their children in a vehicle. Checking a million seats through the Safe Kids Buckle Up program has likely resulted in hundreds of lives being saved because of the proper use of car seats and booster seats.”
The partnership between Safe Kids USA and General Motors is the longest-running corporate/nonprofit program of its kind, addressing safety for children in and around vehicles. In 2004, Chevrolet became the lead GM brand for the relationship. Safe Kids has more than 600 state and local coalitions and chapters, staffed mostly by volunteers, who provide injury prevention programs to communities throughout the country free of charge.
“Chevy dealers have become leaders in child safety as they work with Safe Kids Buckle Up to bring this lifesaving program to their communities,” said Ed Peper, North America vice president, Chevrolet. "We know a million seats isn’t the finish line, but it’s a very good start.”
Safe Kids Buckle Up has expanded from child safety seat checkups to include a variety of programs to help keep children safer in and around vehicles. The program has distributed approximately 365,000 seats to families in need, deployed a fleet of more than 130 Chevrolet Mobile Car Seat Checkup Vans, established more than 450 permanent child safety seat inspection stations, created a new Automotive Safety Patch program with Chevrolet and the Cub Scouts, and launched the Spot the Tot and Never Leave Your Child Alone programs across the country. The program also works to upgrade state child passenger safety laws. All together, the Safe Kids Buckle Up program activities have touched nearly 15 million people.
“Since the beginning, our goal has been to reach parents, caregivers and children across the country,” said Rod Gillum, GM vice president, corporate responsibility and diversity. “We are proud to see Safe Kids Buckle Up reach this important milestone, while recognizing that the job of protecting children must continue to be a priority. Safe Kids is a great partner, and their experts have made Safe Kids Buckle Up a truly dynamic program.”
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among children ages 3 to 14, according to NHTSA. In 2005, 1,946 children ages 14 and under died and an estimated 234,000 were injured in crashes.
To find the location of a Safe Kids Buckle Up event, visit www.usa.safekids.org.
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